How to remodel your home with confidence and peace of mind

When remodeling, confidence and peace of mind directly relates to your planning.  Here are ten steps to proper planning that will make your home remodel project move with ease, physically and mentally. 

1. Plan and draw your dream

sketchYou first want to put everything on paper that you can.  You may have your vision mapped out in your head perfectly.  However, this may not be practical or pose some unforeseen issues that need to be taken into consideration.  Architects can be expensive and conveying your vision verbally can be complicated and waste time and money for designs that don’t satisfy you. when you have had time to see it on paper and visualize it in reality.  This means creating a vision of your remodeling ideas and putting it on paper.  For those that are less inclined to draw it out, a simple design program can help you visualize your project.  If you are closing off a space think about traffic patters that you are creating.  On the same end a large addition could affect your curb appeal or bring unwelcome contrast to a smaller room.

2. Get ideas from other people

sharing-ideasNo matter how unique your ideas are, there is a strong chance it has been done before.  The benefit of this is that you can learn from the mistakes of others.  This can also give you inspiration and expand your design pallet to something that exceeds your original dream.  A number of websites have home improvement ideas, pictures, live chat rooms, message boards and reply forms that give you the ability to ask questions and get feedback.

3. Make a budget and stick to it

ScreenHunter_24 Sep. 24 10.20Making a budget is critical; dreaming up ideas to be crippled by the reality of your budget can be depressing.  Make your budget prior to any plans or serious brainstorming to avoid any letdowns.  Don’t overstretch yourself with finances; you want to have reserves for any unforeseen trouble.  Make sure to factor in possible rate increases if you’re using a credit card or home equity loan for your home improvement.  Lastly, you want to have some reserves or a cushion for unforeseen costs.

4. Plan for the future

FutureAllot of people sell themselves on home remodels under the pretense that it “pays for itself” when you sell the home.  Market conditions come and go as many of us have experienced over the past few years.  If you’re not immediately selling your home don’t bank on future market conditions to recoup your expenses.  An excessive remodel can price you outside of your neighborhood making it difficult to pull market comparables complicating financing for your prospective buyer.  Additionally, if your home is a historic home a remodel not done right can actually decrease the value.  Lastly, bear in mind your families future needs and how they might differ in the near future.  A growing family could render your upgrade impractical or your home too small, while a new job might force you to move simply due to distance.

5. Choose your team

If you don’t plan to complete the entire remodeling project by yourself, then you’ll need to hire help.  When searching for contractor you want to make sure they are qualified, licensed and properly insured.  Find out how long they have been in business and what their standing is with the better business Bureau and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).  You can also check on Yelp and Google them for additional customer feedback.  Contractors with many positive reviews and extensive credentials can make your project go with ease, while a less qualified (less expensive) contractor might not completing your job on time, to your standards and you could end up budget in the end.

6. Negotiate

images (1)Service industries like remodeling are competitive and you can take advantage of this.  Negotiate everything up front.  In addition to price, make sure everyone agrees to on the time frame the work will be completed, the penalty if overdue and the materials that will and will not be used.  A verbal agreement could end with an over budget project you can’t afford ending with a lien on your home or worse.  Despite the company’s reputation get everything in writing and make sure it is signed and notarized.

7. Get Permission

rights-11In the majority of communities, a legal permit is required before you make structural changes to your home.  To assure that the remodeling project meets local building codes and safety regulations you will need to get a building permit.  Historic districts may require additional guidelines regarding your area.  A general contractor should be aware of what permit is needed in your area, but smaller businesses might require you obtain your own permit.  Don’t forget to check with your HOA if you have one.  You can read your covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) or call your HOA office.

8. Plan For Problems

Crossing out problemsThis may be a harder one to swallow than others, but being prepared will give you piece of mind.  In addition, if something goes wrong you will be prepared to effectively manage the situation to produce a positive result.  A rule of thumb is the large the project the more potential problems.  There could be delays, miscommunication, equipment breakdowns, supply shortages even contractors or workers quit.  Make the rules of you home clear such as where to park, bathrooms to use, water to drink, trash, where to store their equipment.

9. Protect Your Valuables

valuablesEveryone is not a thief but that doesn’t mean that can’t knock over an expensive painting or a nice piece of china.  Remove everything that in direct traffic and make sure cover any flooring such as hard wood floors to prevent stains or scratches.  It would be wise to not leave valuables lying around such as your wallet, watch or ring.  If your going to be gone from the home make sure and secure valuables in a safe or remove from home.

10. Enjoy Yourself

images (3)If your kitchen or bathrooms are being remodeled plan your necessities and how you will live while this is being remodeled.  Plan some ways that you can enjoy yourself if things start to become stressful.  Stay at a friend’s house, go to the park catch some fresh air. You may also want to get a massage or rent a room at a nice hotel or even go on vacation.  Remember you earned it!profile-picture

How to Fix a Running Toilet


Is your toilet talking to you?  Are you losing sleep?  Here are a few easy steps on how to get to know your toilet and know what its saying

Despite most of the movies we watch today, the hissing going on in your bathroom is not a poltergeist out to get you; however, this does not mean your toilet is not talking to you.  The hissing going on in your bathroom may be a leaky toilet that’s simpler to fix than you might think.

First you want to understand how a toilet works; simply remove the lid and flush a few times (more than 3 times you’re just playing).  You will notice that there are a few basic mechanisms that make your toilet work.

When you push the handle, the chain lifts a flapper, letting a tankful of water fall through the opening in the bottom, into the bowl. As the water level drops, the flapper drops and closes the opening.

A plastic float drops as the water drains. The float is connected to a valve that lets water into the tank when the float is down and stops (or should stop) when the float is up.

In the middle, there’s also an overflow tube that drains water out into the bowl if it gets too high


At this point you’ve  likely caught your toilet doing exactly what it’s not supposed to do;  if not here are some likely culprits.


Chain:  Is the chain catching on something?  Does it seem to short or too long?  If you manually pull the chain up and down does it work ok?  You may want to replace the chain with a rubber line to prevent catching.  Some people have threaded the chain through a plastic straw to make it smoother.  You can also use dental floss for a temporary fix and according to some this works better than the chain

Flapper:  The flapper takes the brunt of wear n tear inside your tank, and often needs to be replaced every 5 years to prevent any slow leaks.

When you push down on the flapper with your hand does it stick or stop leaking into the toilet?  Is the flapper aligned with the hole?  If you have a ball seal instead of a flapper, is the wire that lifts the ball straight and does it move freely?

Sediment and Lime:  This can be a horror sight in some states with extremely hard water.  An old toothbrush and Lime-A-Way works great on an empty tank.  You can also remove the parts to give them a more thorough scrub.  Cleaning beneath the flapper, and the hole it goes in can often solve leaking issues.

Sometimes leeks are sneakier and you periodically hear the toilet go on and you know that no one has used it in several hours; you may a have slow leek.  This can be checked by putting some food dye or dye tablets in the tank and come back in a few hours and see if there is dye in the bowl.

 Valve and float:  Take a look at the water line when the tank fills up.  You want the water line at the water sweet spot, which is approximately 2.5cm from the top of the tank.  Too little water can cause the flapper to not stay secure, and too much can also allow water to seep through given excess pressure.

If the float is around the valve post, pinch the metal clip with a pair of pliers and slide the float down on the wire.

If the float is a ball on an arm, try turning the small screws on top of the valve. Sometimes, you can also bend the arm further down (remember less is more).  Be careful to do this when the tank is full so you don’t overdo it and end up with water on the floor.

Make sure the float moves smoothly and nothing is obstructing it.  The float can sometimes get water into it.  Simply remove it, twisting in counter clockwise and give it a shake; if there is water inside its time to replace it.

When you pull up the float by hand the water should stop filling the tank; if it doesn’t, and you have tried all the above, you might need to replace the refill valve assembly.  This is a bit more complicated, so be sure and read all the instructions that come with your replacement valve and if things get too complicated contact us to do it for you.


An Outlet That Suits Your Needs

For years now, the standard (old-fashioned) outlet worked great, with the only changes being cosmetic. But now, in this tech-driven world we live in, your outlets need a complete redesign. Enter the Leviton T5630 outlet with one standard receptacle and two USB ports for phones and other electronic gear.

The outlet for today’s home


There is a smart chip inside the outlet that adjusts output to suit your device. Toss away those annoying wall adapters, or keep them in your travel bag. How many of these gadget-friendly outlets can we install for you? Call or click for an estimate.

Attention to Hot Water Heaters Now Keeps You from Being Left in the Cold Later

A little preventative hot water heater maintenance can save thousands in costly repairs.

On a 115-degree summer day in Phoenix, your hot water supply may be the last thing on your mind. Heck, some Valley residents might have trouble getting anything but warm water out of their taps at this time of year. It may be true that Phoenix water heaters don’t have a very difficult job in the summer, but that doesn’t mean you should take yours for granted. Now’s the time to schedule a water heater inspection, before cooler weather finally returns to the Valley. Having an adequate hot water supply will seem a lot more important on those occasional winter nights when even Phoenix has freeze warnings!

As any Phoenix handyman or plumber knows, the abundant minerals in our water can wreak havoc with water-related appliances. Warm or hot water especially can carry a lot of dissolved calcium. This may be evident around your water heater’s hot water outflow pipe, where you may notice a white, chalky buildup. Inside your water heater, it may be even worse. Minerals deposits on the heating elements can reduce your heater’s efficiency and leave you with a much lower supply of hot water than you should be getting. Having these deposits cleaned off will help you get the most for your energy dollar. Heating elements can also go bad, and having your two-element heater running on just one element will reduce your hot water supply even more drastically. Heating elements should be tested and replaced if necessary.

Even if your water heater is functioning well, it may simply not have the capacity to generate an adequate amount of hot water for your household. If your family has grown, you obviously will require more hot water for bathing, washing and laundry. Moving up to a higher-capacity water heater is the only solution, and now is a great time to make the change. By getting your hot water heater installation done at the end of summer, you’ll beat the rush and never be left in the cold.

For water heater services and installation, including energy-saving solar water heater systems, contact The Happy Handyman at 480-216-2750 or toll-free at 888-922-9918.

Closet Remodeling Offers More Storage, Greater Efficiency

Adding drawers, shelves, rods and more to your closet can tranform your dishelved closet into an organized space.
Adding drawers, shelves, rods and more to your closet can transform your dishelved closet into an organized space.

In many Valley households, the approach of fall triggers a frenzy of action comparable to spring cleaning in other climates. When the mercury finally shows signs of backing off after another long, hot Arizona summer, Phoenix residents seem to be energized by the promise of cooler weather as much as Northerners are by the sight of melting snow. Deep cleaning, tackling home repairs and organizing storage spaces are all on the agenda. Summer things are put in storage, while fall wear and school clothes for the kids come out.

After much sorting, rearranging and repacking, many people come to the conclusion that their closets simply aren’t big enough to hold all that stuff. Often the real problem, however, is that most closets just were never built in a way that uses the space most efficiently. With the high cost of adding storage space to a house or renting an off-site storage unit, closet remodeling can be one of the easiest, cost-effective home improvement projects.

A skilled carpenter or cabinetmaker can assess your storage needs with you and install just the right combinations of added shelves, drawers, racks, rods and hooks to customize your cookie-cutter closets into ones that suit your life exactly. Another option to consider, as long as you’re having your closets rebuilt, is to have cedar closet linings installed in them. Cedar panels or planks give closets a wonderful, natural scent and are resistant to both mildew and insects such as moths and silverfish.

Remodeled closets have immediate benefits to the homeowner. Daily living is more efficient and less frustrating when you stop wasting valuable time hunting for buried items, re-ironing wrinkled clothes, etc. In addition, other areas of your home will be beautified as more of the unsightly clutter scattered about can now be stored out of sight in your revamped closet. Down the road, if you’re ever looking to sell your house, potential buyers will be impressed by the additional storage space your house offers over those with run-of-the-mill closets.

The Happy Handyman can work with you to remodel your closet into an orderly, organized storage space for your clothes, shoes and accessories. We install closet linings, too! Call us for a free quote at 888-922-9918 or 480-216-2750.